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Social Media Hindsight
By: Jessica Cherok
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Bragging about your latest accomplishment on social media is nothing new. We’ve all heard about engagements, weddings, babies, new cars, etc. from our friends and followers. While these types of updates certainly give us a glimpse into the happenings of others, they are relatively innocuous, and not exactly the kind of information that would get anyone into trouble.

Nowadays there is an ever-increasing trend on the part of law enforcement to use social media as a tool in the investigation and prosecution of crimes. Suddenly, it makes you wonder - could these seemingly innocuous status updates and other online activities land you in hot water down the road?

Of course, there are the more obvious cases, where someone has tweeted about damaging their ex’s car or destroying their neighbor’s mailboxes. In those cases it is easy to look at being caught as social Darwinism. After all, if you are stupid enough to do something like that, and then brag about it, you deserve it.

But most people are not the type to do such a thing in the first place. Much less announce it on the internet. Still, we put out a whole cornucopia of information about ourselves, and depending on what could happen down the road, we could be sealing our own fate.

Take divorce cases, for example. While there are few that include criminal proceedings, it is very likely that all those check-ins at the local bar could help your estranged spouse make a case against you. Or all of that so-called venting you did on Facebook leading up to the divorce, suddenly makes you look like the intolerable SOB your ex is claiming you to be.

Far too often statements made on social media are seen by employers, police and attorneys as being a problem. Even if you aren’t giving direct access to your Facebook page, it’s fairly simple to take a screenshot and forward it along to someone else.

Or perhaps your colicky baby has been keeping you awake all hours for months on end. Thanks to features like Facebook’s timeline, your child could potentially go back and see exactly how you felt about his constant crying. What you said in a sleep deprived hysteria may be hurtful, or at the very least embarrassing.

No one is perfect, and we are all going to have slip-ups here and there. Still, it’s important to remember the viewability of what we say in the heat of a moment has a lot more staying power than it used to.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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